Sunday, November 18, 2012

Arizona - Walnut Canyon National Monument

Our last day in the Flagstaff area, we had hoped to see at least two more places.  We had planned to go to the Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater National Monuments.  We stopped at the closest one first, Walnut Canyon.

We went inside the visitor center and used our  NP pass to get in.  The Rangers at the desk were very nice and told us to have a look around the visitor center, watch the short movie, and the trail we would want to take is out the door and take the first right.  Ok, sounds good.

Of course the kids got their Jr Ranger books, so we went around inside and studied all of the displays and information provided.  We watched the movie, it was good.  It not only told about Walnut Canyon, but it also provided the history of Sunset Crater since the two are intertwined.  Very nice, all good inside :).

Next, we followed the nice Rangers suggestion and went back out the door and took the first right.  The sign says Island Trail and it begins on the canyon rim.  Hmmm...where's the trail?  A few steps further and a peek over the side of the canyon and THERE'S the trail, or mountain goat path to be more precise.  Good grief!  This trail was beyond anything we had seen at the Grand Canyon, it literally was wide enough for one person to walk hugged up against the side of the rock wall.  We should have turned around then, but we were just told by the "nice" Ranger that this was the trail we wanted...with our five wiggly kids.  Can't be that bad, right?  HAHA...wrong!  The beginning of the trail is steps with the rock wall on one side and a hand rail on the other.  Doable. soon as the steps end, so does the hand rail.  There is nothing between you and the edge and you can't hold on to the kids hands because the trail is single file.  After my head quit spinning and my legs would let me walk we turned around and went right back up those steps.  I still wonder what that man was thinking :)?

The other trail offered is the Rim Trail.  This trail follows the rim of the canyon and also has no rails for the majority of the walk.  It is set off of the edge far enough that we felt safe taking the kids and we could hold on to the littlest ones hands.  It was a pleasant hike with a couple of overlooks (with railings) into the canyon.  We saw quite a few of the ruins set into the canyon crevices that the monument is known for.  There were also ravens that were coasting around on the air currents...they were flipping, diving, and just playing.  The kids liked watching them.

The trail takes you through a Ponderosa forest and there are signs all along that identify the plants and include a description of what the native people used them for.  Near the end of the trail we got to explore the ruins of a pithouse and pueblo.  So neat to walk through the doorway of a home so old.

By this time it was well past lunch, so we went to the car and got our food.  The picnic area was a good walk back up in the forest, but it was worth it.  We ate our sandwiches at a table in the trees and the kids finished up their Jr Ranger books.  It was completely quiet and peaceful :).

The Ranger, a different one than when we arrived :), was very thorough with the kids and their books.  He spent a lot of time going over everything with them and asking them questions.  When we were done, we were completely out of time to visit Sunset Crater.   I guess we will have to see it next time :).

Oh, and I can't even remember if I took my camera with me that day.  I can't find any pictures if I did.  So, since I like pictures...

Tris:  age 7

So stinkin' cute!!!

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